Houston Astros

Houston Astros: Comparing Brett Wallace and Lance Berkman's 2011 Seasons

Brandon CroceAnalyst IMay 18, 2011

Houston Astros: Comparing Brett Wallace and Lance Berkman's 2011 Seasons

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    HOUSTON - MAY 11:  Brett Wallace #29 of the Houston Astros looks back at home plate umpire Marvin Hudon after he was callled out on strikes in the first inning during a baseball gamel against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on May 11, 2011 in Hous
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Last season was a time of turnover for the Houston Astros, as a number of veterans were shipped out and a crop of young prospects was asked to step up and fill in. One of those prospects was first baseman Brett Wallace, who had the biggest shoes to fill stepping in for Lance Berkman, who was traded last season to the New York Yankees.

    Berkman had been a fixture in the Astros lineup for over a decade, but many felt that Father Time caught up to Berkman and his skills were starting to slip. Well, there must be something in the water in St. Louis because Lance has had a resurgence this season.

    Not to be outdone, Brett Wallace is off to a great start as well and is doing everything he can to make fans forget about Berkman.

    Here is how the two seasons compare for the former Astros first baseman and the current one.

Batting Average

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    HOUSTON - MAY 09:  Brett Wallace #29 of the Houston Astros stops at third base as third base coach Dave Clark gives him the halt sign against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on May 9, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Lance Berkman's Batting Average: .344

    Brett Wallace's Batting Average: .323

    Both players are off to a great start, but Lance Berkman is a few points better than Wallace. However, Berkman has been in a little bit of a slump the past week, hitting only .133 compared to Wallace, who is hitting .273.

    Another big difference, and the reason I give the edge to Wallace in this category, is that Berkman gets to hit in a lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. I am sure he is the third focus for pitchers in that lineup.

    Brett Wallace, on the other hand, gets Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, which means Wallace does not have nearly as much help as Berkman.

Hitting for Power

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 5: Lance Berkman #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after hitting the game-winning three-run home run against the Florida Marlins at Busch Stadium on May 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Ima
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Lance Berkman: 11 HR, 34 RBI

    Brett Wallace: 3 HR, 13 RBI

    This is no contest, as Lance Berkman gets the edge in this category, hitting 11 home runs with 34 RBI through his first 37 games. He is three home runs away from tying his season total from last year.

    I think this again could be attributed to getting to play with some of the best hitters in the game in Pujols and Holliday.

    Wallace also has shown some power in the minor leagues, hitting 20 in 2009 and 18 home runs last year in only 95 games. I don't think Astros fans need to worry yet, as Wallace is still trying to get comfortable, and playing in Minute Maid Park will make things easier for him.

Awards

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Lance Berkman #12 of the St Louis Cardinals tosses his bat in reaction to his strikout against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry Ho
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Lance Berkman has already won Player of the Week twice for the National League, during the weeks of April 11-17 and April 25-May 1. He is the only player so far this season to have won the award two times.

    He has, however, struggled so far in the month of May, hitting only .212. It will be interesting to see if the 37-year-old can turn it around or if he is already getting run down.

Defense

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 26:  First baseman Brett Wallace #29 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on April 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    This is one area where Brett Wallace has greatly improved over his time in the minors and now in the majors. He always had a potent bat, but many questioned his defensive abilities. During his time in the minors he made the switch from third base to first base and has played pretty well at first base.

    He has had only two errors so far this season and has a fielding percentage of .993. This ranks him 20th in MLB for first basemen—better numbers than Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.

    Lance Berkman had to make the move to the outfield after signing with the Cardinals due to them already having a pretty good first baseman in Pujols. The move has not been easy for Berkman, as he a fielding percentage of .981 but does only have one error. He does have experience playing in the outfield but hadn't played it regularly since 2004. Age may start to play a role in his defensive ability as the season drags on.

Did the Astros Make the Right Move?

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    HOUSTON - JULY 30:  First baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros sits in the dugout during batting practice before the Milwaukee Brewers play the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 30, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    There is no denying that Lance Berkman is off to a great start, and if he is able to continue the start he is having, he should most likely be an All-Star come July. However, the Astros made the right move trading Berkman when they did.

    Brett Wallace is also off to a great start in his own right and is starting to show why so many teams have traded for the first baseman in his short career.

    This is is also a great move for the future, as Berkman is not getting any younger, not to mention Wallace has a much smaller salary than Berkman.

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